Those who stumbled: 1 Samuel 2.4 VOTD

“The bows of warriors are shattered, but those who stumbled have taken on strength.”

1 Samuel 2.4

Ana’s song of praise celebrates the God who causes the reversal of fortunes. Some think she appropriated an early, already existing song to her situation. She thanks God and acknowledges his grace.

God gives the advantage to the disadvantaged. How does this perspective affect our faith and work?

#strength #power #VOTD

Lack power: Isaiah 40.28-29 VOTD

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is an eternal God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He does not get tired or weary;
there is no limit to his wisdom.
He gives strength to those who are tired;
to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.”

Isaiah 40.28-29

Israel told herself that God was not concerned with her problems, v. 27. Repeatedly, Isaiah told the people that the problem was not with God, but with her sins, Isa 59.1-8.

“Believers cannot win the battle by themselves. They need the power of God, Ephesians 3:16; 6:10. His power becomes our strength when we trust in Him, II Corinthians 12:9. Faith is like an extension cord. When plugged into God, divine strength flows into human beings. The key is being plugged in, Ephesians 1:18-21; 3:20; Colossians 1:29. But, when we are firmly jointed to Him, we become more than conquerors through Him who loved us, Romans 8:35,37-39.” —Ed Mathews, “Plow New Ground”

#power #strength #VOTD

‘Despite great strength’ Psalm 33.17 VOTD

“A horse disappoints those who trust in it for victory; despite its great strength, it cannot deliver.”

Psalm 33.17

Man trusts in many things other than God, but they all ultimately fail.

In the place of “horse,” what might be appropriate for people today?

#VOTD #strength #victory

The shallow nature conscious of its weakness and…

The shallow nature, conscious of its weakness and insufficiency, is always trying to advertise itself and make sure of its being appreciated. The strong nature, conscious of its strength, is willing to wait and let its work be made manifest in due time. Indeed, the truest natures are so free from all self-consciousness and self-consideration that their object is not to be appreciated, understood or recompensed but to accomplish their true mission and fulfill the real work of life.

A.B. Bruce

#freedom, #strength

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(#164) The Proverbs of Solomon 24:3-6-Wisdom Builds Houses and Lives

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 24:3-6: “Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Building a house is an illustration of applied wisdom: the dream is expressed, detailed plans are made and then followed. Every house follows this procedure, therefore every house is an expression of wisdom. “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). “Wisdom” shows the thoughtfulness of the plan; “understanding” shows the application to the materials; “knowledge” completes the details of the plan in building a house.

When wisdom is applied to life, itself, it’s a strengthening exercise that makes one “strong.” A truly “wise” person first “knows” what should be the right course of action; second, realizes his/her personal, individual responsibility in “war;” third, knows to gather various opinions from “counselors” (advisors) to see if there may be other factors to consider.

“Knowledge” gives “strength” to overcome many situations when “fools” don’t know what to do: “They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed” (1 Peter 2:8).

“War” should not always just be associated with violent conflict between nations, but also with the spiritual “war” each one of us must fight: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

It does no good to just follow the majority opinion, for the majority is not always right, as those who recommended sailing against the inspired prophetical advisory of Paul (Acts 27:9-21) found out!

Another proverb teaches this same principle: “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).

A wise man/woman will build a strong house, preparing for the storms of life by obeying the wisdom of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #houses, #knowledge, #life, #lives, #proverbs, #strength, #strong, #understanding, #wisdom

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(#142) The Proverbs of Solomon 19:22-Be A Man, Son

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 19:22: “What is desired in a man is kindness, And a poor man is better than a liar.”

“Kindness” is evenness of temperament, constant return of goodness, consideration of others. It is a universally-recognized, timeless, and desirable, trait in humanity. “Love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4), and uninspired people see its wisdom: “It’s nice to be important, it’s more important to be nice” (Anon); “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” (Aesop); “Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses” (Confucius); “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see” (Mark Twain); “A kind word is like a Spring day” (Russian proverb); “Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns” (Anon).

It is a man-trait, especially, because it takes a real man to be strong enough to return good for evil. “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). Kindness is a show of strength, but often mistaken for weakness. Regardless of who persecuted Jesus Christ, or how, He was more of a man than they, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24).

“A poor man is better than a liar” shows that poverty should not be used as an excuse for immorality. “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6).

The God of the Israelites was: “Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them” (Nehemiah 9:17). Jesus Christ based one of His best-known commandments upon this characteristic of God: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35). Christians should develop the same characteristic: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

God’s kindness extended through Jesus Christ should touch a sinner’s heart (Titus 3:3-4), and the sinner should kindly return toward God (Acts 16:22-34). “Be a man, Son,” obey the Gospel today (Mark 16:16), and make this a kinder world!

Cruel words can make us cry, but so can deeds of kindness.

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #evil, #kindness, #man, #nice, #proverbs, #strength, #unthankful

Run, do not walk

#freedom, #psalms, #strength, #word-of-god

Re: Day 18 — Psalm 1:4

I have said several times, and recently, somewhere, that the church appears, from a human standpoint, as a fragile thing, on the verge of being blown away at any moment by the slightest wind. Both saints and the good works of the kingdom seem to exist on the precipice of destruction.

This is true, however, not of God’s people, who show their metal under trials and persecutions, but of the wicked. So says the psalmist.

Not so with the wicked! Instead they are like wind-driven chaff.
Psalm 1:4 NET

With a puff, the wicked are gone. The righteous are the stable ones, and the difference is attitude toward God’s law. The stabilizer is laser focus on the word of God.

Perhaps those churches who have nice buildings, full-time staff with nice titles, elders with years of experience, and a long, proud history may not feel the tentativeness in the work that I feel, where we move from place to place, have no one working full-time, lack qualified men to serve as elders, and started yesterday, relatively speaking, in this effort.

We feel how the work suffers when someone turns from the Way, when the seed falls on rocky soil, when persecution thins the ranks, when sickness lays low a saint and death take precious friends. (Does anyone else feel this?)

Yet, still, for all the apparent weakness and the tenuousness of our efforts and our very lives, we are not the ones to be swept away by the elements. After the storm, we still stand. Gone are the wicked. Because they pretend strength by their own power, but we hold to the Lord.

So will we hold until the end.

#power, #psalms, #righteous, #strength, #wicked

What would I say?

“Do not, Lord, hold this sin against them.” The words of Stephen, as he was being pelted with stones, death stones we can call them. In my fifty years, and certainly in my twenty-seven years as a Christian, I have had some difficulty appreciating these words. Stephen knew that has he stood before the council (Acts 6:12) he had little opportunity for a fair “trial” to actuated. Yet, he stood there fully prepared for the verdict that, I imagine, he knew was against him already. He stood there looking out over the ones who would judge him unfairly. He stood there looking at the High Priest, and when the High Priest had bidden him, Stephen speaks. He spoke about those things “commonly believed” (Acts 7:1-50) and then he spoke about that which they dared not believe (Acts 7:51-53). This sent them into a rage and, in their rage, they saw to it that whatever pretense of fairness they were supposed to have was stripped away and exposed for what it was, but an ugly crowd with much hate in their heart for the one who died for them.

Stephen did not die for them, but he had on his lips the very words of our Lord when he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). What would I say if in that position? Well, I am not sure; I am sure, however, that Stephen’s strength (as I interpret it) is something that I am still working on to strengthen in myself.

#stephen, #strength

Strong in the Lord – JAM

The Journal of Physiology reports that space voyages results in loss of strength. Nine astronauts and cosmonauts who were tested during and following six months aboard the International Space Station showed up to 40% muscle-wasting. With a three-year Mars expedition on the horizon, this finding is a real concern to NASA scientists. Most of us realize that maintaining strength requires exercise and the more strenuous the exercise, the greater the benefit. Not only is this true of physical strength but it is equally true of spiritual development. To grow spiritually we must get involved in spiritual exercise: prayer, praise, reading and studying God’s word, service to others and good works. This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

#just-a-minute, #strength

Strength Through Humility

No equation of strengths and weaknesses makes someone better than you. Our strengths, mixed with humility, lift us high (James 4:10), while we strive to overcome our frailties through transformation in Christ (Romans 12:1-2).

#christ, #grace, #mercy, #strength, #weakness

Pound the Pulpit

When I was in school I remember hearing the fellows make a light-hearted comment on preaching. When you get to a weak point in the sermon, emphasize it with more vigor. It was (is) usually said this way: “weak point, pound pulpit.”

There are a number of thoughts on this to be shared. First, a preacher is to have no weak points in his sermon. Second, pounding the pulpit might be a good way to emphasize, but a good listener will hear the words without the pounding. Third, and the primary point of this post, those who speak the loudest are generally the weakest.

Surely, this last point will not be accepted by all; but, perhaps, at least it will be recognized as having some merit. I have heard countless times a person say something to the effect, “I will not be guilty of that ______.” (and with much emphasis this is said). At the time spoken, I think it is genuinely believed that the person who said this is quite sure of self in saying it. But, I have also noticed, that the loudest speaker, the one who emphasizes his (her) words the most, is the one who generally falls the quickest. It may be that the one who falls did not fall into the trap that another was guilty of, but a hard fall resulted just the same. Why is this?

No hard fast rule, but a thought for reflection. When I was playing ball in school, I noticed that many of the fellows had to convince themselves of certain things. A free safety was not going to be burned on pass coverage, a defensive end was not going to be hooked on an option play, I can hit any curve (breaking ball) thrown to me, and no change-up will catch me flat-footed, and so on. In my mind there was no doubt in me that these young men knew exactly what they were saying and they knew exactly what to do to prevent themselves from being embarrassed. However, I also noticed that many times that the ones who had to convince themselves had much difficulty executing the play and hitting the pitch as desired.

While the loudest and the one with much bravado may not be the weakest or the quickest to fall, be sure to look out. Do not look out in order to watch the fall (and say, “I told you so.”), but look out in order to help, to intercept, to encourage, and to strengthen. Paul said it this way, “Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too” (Galatians 6:1, NET).

#bravado, #preaching, #strength, #weakness

A recent quote that made me sit up? Robe…

A recent quote that made me sit up? General Robert E. Lee once stated: “The Bible is a book in comparison with which all others in my eyes are of minor importance, and which in all my perplexities and distresses has never failed to give me light and strength”

The Bible has never failed to give me light and strength either.

General Douglas MacArthur was heard to say to one of his fellows: “Believe me, sir, never a night goes by, be I ever so tired, but I read the Word of God before I go to bed.”

Even though dead, General MacArthur still speaks, providing us a great example!

#bible, #book, #distress, #example, #light, #perplex, #read, #strength

When Do I Grow?

I was once made very angry and I had to grow to learn patience and forgiveness.

I was once slandered and I had to grow to learn that living right and doing right is the best answer to the lies of others.

I occasionally find myself ignored or forgotten and I have to grow in my humility.

From time to time I fail, and I have to grow beyond my failures to try again. As often as I sin, I am reminded I still need to repent. I still marvel at the grace of God.

Like Paul I have times of abundance and times of suffering need, and I am learning to depend upon the mercy of One greater than myself to provide what I cannot do for myself. I grow most when I lean upon the Lord’s strength. He strengthens me. What a treasure to have the power of God available for the asking!

I am often so ignorant, but the Word informs me and enlightens me to see what I have never seen before.

God molds and shapes us positively in wonderful ways through friends, through the Word, and through prayer. God also uses the events of our lives, both positive and negative, to help us understand the practical messages of the Word. He grows us from the inside and from without. He shapes and molds us, equips us, and prepares us for great things. God is so good to us, even when our growth comes with pain.

#equip, #growth, #pain, #prayer, #shape, #strength, #word

My favorite hymn is Tell Me the Story of Jesus

It is old and beautiful and it brings me to tears.

Speaking of hymns, if I were going to write one, which I’m not, I would leave out the third verse. Why? So many song leaders leave the third verse out when leading. Look at How Great Thou Art. Is there a more beautiful verse than the third verse?

“And when I think of God, His son not sparing, Sent Him to die; I scare can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.”

#courage, #hymns, #love, #strength